Cultural centre secures funding
Project set to be completed by next summer
Work to transform a former smiddy in Balmaclellan into a cultural and and heritage centre is due to get under way later this month.
Developers Glenkens Community and Arts Trust Ltd (GCAT) announced the news this week after securing full funding for the £350,000 project.
It is anticipated works will be complete and the Old Smiddy ready for opening by next summer.
Trust chairman Alan Smith predicted the hub would be a major multi-use asset to the region.
It will also take pressure off GCAT’s main asset, the CatStrand in New Galloway, which is regularly bursting at the seams.
Mr Smith said:“This development will be a great addition to what we are already doing at the CatStrand and to our other projects such as Bright Stars and Glenkens Community Nursery.
“Whilst the new building will have a major impact on Balmaclellan village centre, the aim is to provide an asset which will benefit a much wider audience of locals and visitors.”
Once completed, the centre will build on the success of Glenkens Men’s Shed, which is based next to the building.
It will provide GCAT with additional office accommodation, space for activities and events.
Facilities will have a strong focus on youth with a film and recording studio, IT facilities and meeting area.
Meanwhile, a gallery space will permanently house paintings by highly acclaimed ornithological artist Donald Watson, who lived in St John’s Town of Dalry.
Project backers include the Galloway Glens Landscape Partnership Scheme, LEADER, private individuals and the council.
Galloway Glens team leader McNabb Laurie said: “The scheme has secured more than £2.7million from the Heritage Lottery Fund to support projects that connect people to their heritage and this ambitious proposal ticks all boxes from our point of view.
“We will be working with GCAT in the construction phase to highlight traditional Galloway building methods and explore training opportunities.
“When the building is complete, it will be ideal to host a range of other projects we will be undertaking over the next five years.”
He added: “It is clear this building will be a great economic boost for the Stewartry and beyond.
“Our partnership board were delighted to be able to support this project and it is great news that it is now fully funded and able to get underway.”
Board member Ed Forrest, co-ordinator of Galloway and Southern Ayrshire UNESCO Biosphere, said: “GCAT and its approach to developing dynamic community- based initiatives embodies the whole ethos of UNESCO Biospheres. The Old Smiddy promises to be yet another example to add to that growing portfolio of excellence.”
Delighted at progress Trust chairman Alan Smith; Lindsey Smith, of GCAT, and Nick Chisholm, Galloway Glens project officer, outside the Old Smiddy at Balmaclellan